Posted 06/12/2013 by admin in Untethered MMA

UFC 161: Evans vs Henderson Preview

By Mike Fagan, June 12th, 2013 

Rashad Evans vs. Dan Henderson

-You couldn’t visit an MMA site last month without reading something about Vitor Belfort and TRT and promotion-consented/commission-approved! steroids. Media harpooned the Belfort Whale and went along for the ride. Look at his ripped abs! And the knockouts! He really is a young dinosaur…ON STEROIDS!

Now we’re in the middle of a Dan Henderson fight week. Henderson, the Jackie Robinson of TRT use, doesn’t receive the same volume of animosity.* And yet, there’s just as much “evidence” that Henderson’s use has provided huge performance gains. Prior to 2007, his knockout resume included names like Ryo Chonan and Akihiro Gono and Murilo Bustmante. After? Wanderlei Silva, Michael Bisping, Fedor Emelianenko. His four post-TRT losses are Quinton Jackson, Anderson Silva, Jake Shields, and Lyoto Machida. Just prior to hopping on TRT, he dropped a decision to Kazuo Misaki.

* – Some unscientific research: Googling “Dan Henderson TRT” returns 99,500 results; “Vitor Belfort TRT” returns 219,000 results. “Vitor Belfort TRT” also returns some 380 sources in Google News for the Tuesday-Tuesday prior to his last bout. “Dan Henderson TRT” returns less than 5, and one is about Belfort. These don’t prove much on their own, but do fit with the general feel of things leading up to their respective fights.

Opponents are right when they point out therapeutic-use exemptions for TRT provide a steroid loophole. So long as you have a doctor’s note and test within the allowed range for testosterone, and you have full permission from the state to dope. When commissions hand out exemptions to otherwise healthy looking fighters (Todd Duffee, Frank Mir, Forrest Griffin, etc.), media and fans collectively wring their hands and throw up in their mouths.

But Dan Henderson fights, and whatever. We believe Dan Henderson has a legitimate claim to TRT because…I don’t know. He seems genuine? He’s personable? He’s white? He’s a hard-working American wrestler?

He punched Michael Bisping really, really hard?

-The books have this as a pick ‘em, slightly shaded toward Evans. I guess you can thank Rashad’s broken hand in the Nogueira fight for that. This is an awful matchup for Henderson, who struggled to stay on his feet against an inferior wrestler in Rampage Jackson. Rashad should have no problem shooting from the outside. Hendo’s edge rests solely in his TRT-infused right hand, and Rashad’s speed should nullify that.

Roy Nelson vs. Stipe Miocic

-There’s a lot of talk about the Renaissance of the heavyweight division. Yet, Roy Nelson is your UFC Sanctioned Number Five Heavyweight in the World. The top three could be fun if Cormier wasn’t opposed to fighting the champ (and the UFC isn’t going to want risk Cormier ruining their Cain/JDS cash cow). And it will be fun when Jon Jones makes the jump. But, right now, you essentially have champ and challenger (Cain and JDS), a man in purgatory (Cormier), and a bunch of guys in the middle. Great.

Ryan Jimmo vs. Igor Pokrajac

-Via Fightnomics: “Jimmo has only landed 3 power head strikes in his two UFC appearances, yet scored two knockdowns with those.” Sounds sustainable.

Alexis Davis vs. Rosi Sexton

-Rosi Sexton is 13-2 and on a three-fight winning streak. Julie Kedzie is 16-11 and on a two-fight losing streak. Kedzie is ranked in the Official UFC Rankings. Sexton is not. OK.

Pat Barry vs. Shawn Jordan

-Remember that middle class of heavyweight fighters? These guys are below that. Barry, by Bloody Elbow’s meta-rankings, is the number 25 heavyweight. Jordan isn’t ranked.

Preliminary Notes

-Jakes Shields vs. Tyron Woodley is better than four of the five main card fights, and instead takes the headlining spot on the FX card. Which is also terrible because neither guy has a long-running reputation for the sort of exciting fight you want as a lead-in to your $60 pay-per-view event.

UFC on Fuel 10 Notes

-I knew Fabricio Werdum would be the bigger man on Saturday, but even  I was a little surprised at the size difference.

-Nogueira acquitted himself well standing, but Werdum shut him down on the ground. Nogueria’s deep half guard game, which he used successfully in their 2006 fight, failed him here, and he had little else to offer Werdum on the floor.

-This win should cement Werdum as the next guy to lose to the UFC heavyweight champion. Though he’ll be a big dog to both Cain and dos Santos, I think he stands a better shot with the latter, if only because he won’t get Cain to the floor unless Cain wants to get to the floor.

-It would not surprise me to hear Cavalcante dealt with an injury before or during the fight. He looked to be controlling a competitive fight for the first 2-3 minutes before something switched off. He dropped his hands, his movement slowed, and Thiago Silva capitalized with a huge uppercut along the fence.

-Erick Silva couldn’t have asked for a better bounceback performance. I saw some people on Twitter calling this guy a future champ, though I don’t see it. Yet, anyway. He’s a good fighter, and he’s destroyed lower-tiered fighters like a good fighter should, but there’s a lot of quality talent to wade through at 170 pounds. And he’s not super young, either. He’s closing in on 20 professional fights and 30 years of age. We’re getting close to What You See Is What You Get territory.

-Cool: ten finishes in twelve fights. Not cool: the pacing of a UFC card with ten finishes in twelve fights. I get that this stuff isn’t 100% in the UFC’s control, but multiple 10-, 15-, 20-minute intermissions is not a good way to keep a live crowd invested and a television audience in front of their TVs. (Though your average UFC fan hasn’t seen the Facebook prelims you are replaying.) This is one of the things I’ll miss from Strikeforce on Showtime, which didn’t have to adhere to a block schedule.